‘2020 Christmas was different, but the story was the same’

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Christmas dinner was on Jesus when Bolton churches fed 5,000 people with a bumper Christmas meal over the festive period. More than 2,560 chocolate selection boxes were also gifted to children. Christmas might have been different this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, but the Christian story was still the same.

Simon Peters, walking the way project manager, has been moved by the creativity and ingenuity which local churches have shown during these strange times. ‘Covid-19 is not easy to deal with’, he says, ‘but the call for us all to Walk the Way of Jesus continues, and churches are answering it!’

For churches in Fetcham, Great Bookham and Effingham in Southern Synod, this message of hope was shared in the form of ‘Christmas in a bag’, which took the Christmas message to those outside, or on the fringes, of Church life. Two packs were available, one for families with activities for children and some sweet treats, and another for older people, with quizzes, mini Christmas puddings and brownies. Some of the food items were sourced locally to support local traders and charities. Nearly 500 were distributed, following Covid guidelines, to many different groups.

Similarly, at Maesyronnen Chapel, Powys, Wales, one member had the bright idea of delivering a small gift bag to each house in the neighbourhood (pictured above). Around 250 bags were made up and, as the bags were handed over, members watched as people's reactions transformed from suspicion to joy. What a delight to witness! The church didn’t want anything in return, but just wanted the local community to know that there is hope for the future.

St Andrews URC in Sheffield shared the love by hanging baubles on the railings of the church building’s fence,  with a greeting inviting passers-by to take one home for their own tree, another simple but effective way of communicating the love and hope of Christmas in a time when people were unable to meet physically. In Christchurch, North Western Synod, a similar effort saw 300 gift bags for Christmas disappear from the church railings pretty much as soon as they were put up!

spattricroftIn a slightly different approach to meeting a need in the community, Patricroft and Worsley Road URCs, based in Salford, invited folk to tie ribbons to their railings in memory of someone. When these were taken down, they were put together in displays in chruch’s memorial gardens to remember, in particular, all those who have lost their lived to Covid-19.

Downing Place URC in Cambridge decided to hold a Zoom concert with contributions from people aged 35 months to 90 years. Acts included cello, organ, piano, clarinet and recorder performances, songs, poetry, monologues and artwork, as well as stories about Christmas in other parts of the world. Sandwiched between performances were 'Worship Workout' activities to keep everyone fit, including exercises such as ‘hang the hymn board’, ‘find that reading’ and ‘presenting the offertory balanced on one leg’.

Has your church done something out of the ordinary to share the love of Jesus in your community? Let us know. E-mail wtw@urc.org.uk or call us on 020 7520 2817. Let’s share good news to inspire each other.

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